food steamer

This winter has been one big struggle. Denver is notorious for unpredictable temperatures. One day, it’s below freezing and snows a foot, and the next, it’s in the 60s and you’re biking to the grocery store. The hardest part for me is when it’s warm, I suddenly recall what a slug I’ve been: ordering Thai delivery, staring out the window, watching Netflix. It’s easy to get lost in the weather. It’s even easier to eat unhealthy, carb-laden carryout.

Now, I feel like I’m always talking about my husband’s obsession with cooking gadgets. I don’t think anyone loves a new method for cooking potatoes or broccoli or rice quite like he does. So, on one of those dreary, snowy days, we wrangled ourselves and our kids out of bed to go thrifting – a pastime my whole family enjoys. As usual, my husband made a beeline for the gadgets section. Within minutes, my husband returned, his arms bursting with a new gadget he swore would help us eat healthy through the winter: a food steamer.

A food steamer? Can’t you just put a steamer basket into some shallow water and steam veggies the way we always do? Apparently, the answer was no. And I’d soon find out just how right my husband was on this one. I’ll admit, I’m often incredulous – just look at our bread machine that sits untouched on the laundry room shelf – but it was used, on ale. What the heck. My husband had already passed the steamer off into my arms and was googling some plant-based meals for steamers. In line, he found this delicious recipe for steamed bao buns with pulled jackfruit. He showed the picture to our kids, and that was that. Our lazy Saturday had been transformed into a cooking adventure.

And wow, was it worth it! Having never steamed much more than broccoli before, I couldn’t imagine homemade buns turning out well in a steamer basket. Still, the rest of my family was adamant. Oh well, I thought. Worst case scenario, we can figure out how to bake them.

I love to be proven wrong when I have my doubts about food.

These buns turned out to be incredible. We all absolutely devoured this recipe, and cooking buns from scratch with the girls was a great way to spend quality time together. Needless to say, we’ve been hooked on our steamer for the past few months. It seems like we find an excuse to pull it out from the cuppboard for almost every meal. Sides like green beans with lemon and almonds or steamed broccolini with olive oil take about 12 minutes. Entrees take a little longer, but it’s such a treat to whip up steamed dumplings or lentils and rice completely free of oil!

However, in the weeks that followed, my husband and I realized one big problem we had with the steamer: the trays are made of plastic. While the Bella Food Steamer we have is made with BPA-free plastic, I’m still wary of heating plastic to cook food. My family hardly uses plastic, and we certainly never heat tupperware, so it felt odd to turn a blind eye to heating plastic for “healthy” foods.

Always one for gadgets, my husband started looking for alternatives. He found the Euro Cuisine FS2500 Food Steamer, a sharp price and quality spike up from our little, $5 thrift store find. Although it was a hefty price (over $100), we’d already experienced the food steamer life. We all felt healthier eating o many bright vegetables and so much less oil. I knew we wanted to keep steaming food, but I didn’t want to keep exposing my family to harmful chemicals. So, we went for it.

And wow, is this steamer a beast! I love that it’s made of stainless steel, so I know that whatever my family is eating is as free of chemicals as I can make it. It’s also relatively lightweight, which is nice. When the package first arrived, I was shocked by how big it was. Now, we use that to our advantage. On the weekend, we can prep for the entire week. I often steam several cups of rice at once, then have it in the fridge to add to soups or cook up in a hearty fried rice. The steamer bins are even big enough to steam corn on the cob!

We’ve had this new steamer for about a month, and I know there’s no going back. My family is hooked, and I’m so impressed by how one impulse thrift store purchase has completely rebooted our dinnertime. There’s no looking back – I can’t imagine ever having a kitchen without a food steamer in it! There are so many things to make in our steamer, and I can’t wait to keep exploring and coking with it. Now I just need to dust off the bread machine and get to baking!